Sunday, June 7, 2009

OMNI's Folly

Prita Mulyasari (32) mother of a one and a three year’s old children, was detained from 13 May to 3 June 2008, because she has sent e-mails to her fiends complaining about the low standard medical treatment provided by the OMNI International Hospital in Alam Sutera, Tangerang.

The hospital was so annoyed by the use of the word “Fraud” in the e-mail, that they initiated two legal actions, Civil Lawsuit and Police Report, against Prita.
The Civil Lawsuit has been decided by the District Court of Tangerang on 11 May that ordered Prita to pay compensation amounting to Rp 50 Million. Both parties have filed appeals against said Court Verdict with the High Court in Serang, Banten.
On 13 May, Prita was summonsed by the Police for alleged Defamation of the hospital, charged her of violating the Electronic Information & Transaction(ITE) Law No 11/2008
Art. 27 Par.3 which carries a maximum sentence of 6 years imprisonment and Fine of Rp 1 Billion, and Art. 45, as well as Penal Code Art. 310 & 311. After the interrogation, she was detained at the Tangerang Women Penitentiary.

The use of the ITE Law as basis for Prita’s detention has been strongly protested in Facebook, blogs, Twitter, and persuaded lawmakers, human right activists and the three presidential candidates to urge the Police and District Attorney to release Pritan and process the case fairly and properly. On Wednesday, 3 June, the Tangerang District Court allowed the changing of Prita’s status into City Arrest.
The first trial of the Criminal Case was held on Thursday, 4 June, during which the Prosecutor has read their Prosecution based on the above Police charges. After 20 minutes the trial was adjourned until 11 June 2009.

Although the hospital may have chances to win the the Court Cases, however the situation is totally different outside legal aspects. This is obvious because people are showing supports to Prita. For example, in Facebook alone, the Prita solidarity movement have been supported by more than 225,459 supporters until Sunday 10.30 pm.
And since Prita's case has now become top news of all news papers, TV, radio in Indonesia, it can be ascertained that the hospital's public image is now very bad.

Further, I noticed that the hospital has been represented by its lawyers in giving response to Prita's e-mail and giving statements which were not customer friendly to the media. Only after the crisis has worsened did one of its Director do the job.

How the said hospital responded to complain made by its ex-patient is very important lesson for hospitals and other public service companies in handling mere complains made by their customers, as follows :
1) Never let Lawyers take the lead in handling crisis related to customer complain
2) Let the company's PR, and/or a PR/Crisis Management Consultant, take the lead
supported by lawyer etc, under the coordination of the company's director.
3) Avoid escalation of the case i.e. to Court, because it can make people think that
if they are not satisfied and complain, they will be sued.
4) If mistake has been done, do not hesitate to admit it and offer compensation
5) Be humble, do not hesitate to apologize for any inconveniences
6) If crisis has gotten worse, approach & persuade the ex-patient/customer without
condition for an amicable settlement.
But it would be different if the customer/client/patient committed serious actions such as : violence, blackmail, life threatening.

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